"'No such thing as society', she says. No obligation to the community. No sense of solidarity. No principles of sharing or caring. 'No such thing as society'. No sisterhood, no brotherhood. No neighbourhood. No honouring other people's mothers and fathers. No succouring other people's little children. 'No such thing as society'. No number other than one. No person other than me. No time other than now. No such thing as society, just 'me' and 'now'. That is Margaret Thatcher's society."
Buried away in the comments and the inevitable discussion of property rights on this post about the iniquities of mobile phones at Samizdata.net is this beautifully simple idea.
Maybe they need to introduce a Friendly "quiet" signal, not a jammer, so that when detected it switches to a non audible ring? Places such as conference centres, meeting rooms etc, would have these very small transmitters that send the quiet signal.
This would be an excellent addition to future mobile phone standards.
In 1986 the Slow Food movement began in Italy, with the aim of promoting local Italian food producers and outlets in a stand against the prevailing global supermarkets and fast food chains. The idea spread across Europe and has been taken up by many small communities throughout Europe.
The idea has now grown into the much broader Cittaslow project with the slogan ‘a network of cities where living is easy’. The first official ‘slow town’ in the UK (and possobly in the English speaking world) is the market town of Ludlow in Shropshire.
Cittaslow has a broad remit including familiar issues like noise pollution, recycling, and protection of historic character. Other priorities include boosting a sense of community identity and celebrating local produce in the form of traditional farmer’s markets and family businesses. The Cittaslow web site is here: http://www.cittaslow.stratos.it/ (in Italian) or in English here: www.cittaslow.net/world.
Similarities with the various Market Towns projects in the UK are obvious, (see here for example) but the roots are a lot deeper. In 1978, the Wirksworth project was set up by the Civic Trust to regenerate the small town of Wirksworth in Derbyshire. (A brief history here.) This was hugely successful, turning a decaying mining town into a tourist destination. Similar projects were set up across the UK, with varying degrees of success, but the idea was also picked up in other countries, including the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The Main Street USA project was probably the most successful and their website has lots of inspirational examples and useful material.
From the USA the idea seems to have travelled back across the Atlantic, turning into projects like this one or on a smaller scale this.
Reinforcing the idea of 'local identity' is the idea of Local Distinctiveness developed by Common Ground, from whom came I think the idea of Apple Day. A specific project of theirs is 'England in Particular'. From the local gazetteer here, you can see the diverse entries for your locality by clicking on the on-screen map. For another example of projects around local food, this time in Devon, go here (free registration needed first on this site from here).
Finally, another project, which builds on the idea that supporting local business generates more money for the local economy than is the case with large multiples, is 'Plugging the Leaks' from the New Economics Foundation.
This post is drawn from a e-mail newsletter I do for a Market Towns project, aimed at members of Community Planning Partnerships and others working in community based regeneration. I'm looking to widen the distribution making it more widely available on subscription. If you or your organisation would be interested in receiving a free sample copy and answer a few questions about pricing, frequency of distribution etc, please e-mail me on newsletter[at]ibanda[dot]biz.
If George Bush is defeated in a fortnight, it may be possible to get the UN into the country, in a fashion that should have been done at the outset. Meanwhile, it must be right to do everything possible to ensure that elections in Iraq can be held in January.
If the Americans need British help to achieve this, it seems right to consent. The choice seems now simple. Either we pack up and come home, or we work wholeheartedly to prevent a shambles. Anything between is for flat-earthers.
I was against the invasion of Iraq - not because I supported Saddam or thought he should stay in power, but because I thought the position was being manipulated by Bush for US geopolitical interests (by which I don't just mean 'its all about oil' - although that was I'm sure a factor).
However, we did invade and now for better or worse we are responsible for the country. To pull out now, as the disreputable bunch who call themselves Respect would have us do, would be utter betrayal. I've said it before and I will no doubt say it again - we failed the Iraqis under Bush Snr. To pull out now, when the country is so unstable, would be a double failure, ending any chance of moderate Islamic voices being heard for a generation or more.
I started posting my list of top 10 works of fiction a while ago, but stopped at number six. I wasn't going to include any science fiction, because I had it in mind to do a separate list. Now via The Mumpsimus is this list of 15 in, of all places, Business Week.
I've not come across numbers 13 to 15 and I don't recall ever reading number 10. The others are all good stuff though and good examples of the genre. I'm not sure how many of them would be in my list - probably Stand on Zanzibar and certainly something by Wells although probably not the one here.
Stand on Zanzibar is written in a distinctive style also used by John Dos Passos in his novel USA, which may yet make my top 10 in its own right.
A delayed birthday present brought me this. I'm not usually much of a fan of tenor quartets, since they are too often an excuse for extended self-indulgent blowing from the sax player. This is different though - it is a genuine quartet for a start - but Gordon's tone and inventiveness here is great, standing alongside anything by the great Sonny Rollins.